The 2019 Sweets & Snacks Expo began Tuesday, May 21 at McCormick Place in Chicago.
The expo, May 21-23, features about 450 candy exhibitors and 350 snack exhibitors, 2,000 new product launches and more than 25 learning sessions. More than 15,000 industry professionals are attending.
Attendees can connect with buyers, category managers, merchandisers, operations, executives and store owners. And through education session, they can learn about the latest trends, as well as topics surrounding what it takes to set a category apart in a crowded marketplace.
At a session Tuesday, State of the Industry – Snack: Snacks Rule Center Store, IRI Executive Vice President and Practice Leader Sally Lyons Wyatt spoke about snacking trends, as well as where and how consumers are shopping for snacks.
She said there are four main ways consumers purchase and consume snacks: planned, impulse, on demand and experiential.
“We’re in the middle of a snack evolution,” she said, noting that 47% of consumers eat three or more snacks per day — a number that’s even higher for Gen. Z and millennials.
She also spoke about five trends she’s seen in snacking, including transparent packaging and plant-based products.
“Plant-based isn’t just for vegans and vegetarians,” she said.
Lastly, she mentioned her predictions for future category growth, including lab-grown protein and CBD products, which she said “will be a huge trend.”
At another session, Top 10 Global Snacks and Sweets Trends for 2019, Innova Market Insights Sr. Market Analyst Mindy Hermann outlined how the latest trends from around the world are transitioning to the U.S. market, and how retailers can capture the latest global flavor, product and packaging trends.
The No. 1 global trend for sweets and snacks, she said, is adventurous flavors — followed by plant-based products.
“A lot of snacks now are being propelled by vegetables,” she said. “Mushroom-based snacks, for example, have been huge.”
She also emphasized the importance of sustainability, adding that 2 in 3 consumers in the U.S., UK and China said they expect companies to invest in sustainability.
Outside of the learning sessions, all day long, 800+ exhibitors showcased tried and true favorites alongside their newest products, many of which have not yet hit the market. New products were also displayed in the expo’s New Product Showcase.
Finally, Innovation Awards were given to new products in different categories including ‘seasonal,’ ‘chocolate,’ ‘non-chocolate,’ and ‘salty snacks.’ Among the category winners was Just Born’s Peeps jellybeans, which will debut next Easter.